Ferry traffic at the French port of Calais was at a total standstill this morning as action by MyFerryLink crews protesting over the cessation of the company’s activities went into a second day.
The crews, who belong to the employee cooperative SCOP SeaFrance, were meeting this morning to discuss whether or not to continue their action but port spokeswoman Isabelle Fauquet told IHS Maritime that, in the meantime, the port had been closed to all ferry traffic.
She said that two P&O vessels had been allowed to berth at the port yesterday evening, apparently after negotiations with the protesting seafarers. Passengers and vehicles had been able to disembark and the vessels had taken on fresh vehicles and passengers before leaving again.
Today, however, P&O confirmed that the port was closed and advised all customers planning non-essential travel to rebook for another day.
No DFDS vessels attempted yesterday to use the port where the protesters were occupying ferry berths but the company was able to redirect passengers to neighbouring Dunkirk, where its Dover service was continuing to operate normally.
The MyFerryLink seafarers began their action yesterday afternoon after the Boulogne-sur-Mer court of commerce rejected their application for it to block the cancellation of the crewing contract between MyFerryLink and SCOP SeaFrance, which expires at midnight tomorrow.
Eurotunnel, which owns the three MyFerryLink vessels, issued a statement yesterday evening to confirm that there could be no going back on its agreement to charter two of the MyFerryLink vessels, the Berlioz and the Rodin, to DFDS.
DFDS has already indicated that it is ready to take on 200 seafarers to crew its Dover-Calais services but the MyFerryLink seafarers have warned that they are not ready to see the vessels pass into the hands of the Danish group.
Last night, however, Eurotunnel insisted, “In the current context, MyFerryLink confirms that the only option possible to maintain a maximum of jobs is direct negotiations between the judicial administrators of the SCOP SeaFrance and DFDS.”
DFDS itself told IHS Maritime today, however, that it could not discuss its plans for the two vessels until it had had a response to its offer for part of SCOP SeaFrance from the cooperative’s administrators.
“We have sent our offer to the administrators for part of SCOP SeaFrance and are now awaiting their response to it before we can say anything about the future as it depends on this,” a spokesman said.
The port of Dover advised customers today to check with ferry operators and the port’s website and Twitter account before setting out on their journeys.
It said that Operation Stack, under which freight traffic is held on the coastbound section of the M20 motorway, had been activated but warned that disruption could continue even after industrial action had ended.